About Peter Turney
Peter Turney (September 22, 1827 – October 19, 1903) was Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1870 to 1893; and served as the Governor of the U.S. state of Tennessee from 1893 to 1897
He was born at Jasper, Tennessee on September 22, 1827, the son of Senator Hopkins L. Turney and Teresa Francis. He died on October 19, 1903 at Winchester, Tennessee and is buried in Winchester City Cemetery. He married, as his first wife, on June 10, 1851, at Winchester, Franklin County, Tennessee, Cassandra Webb Garner, daughter of Thomas Heslip Garner, Sr. and Eliza V. Wadlington. He and Cassandra were the parents of three children. He married as his second wife, on April 27, 1858, at South Pittsburgh, Marion County, Tennessee, Hannah Ferguson Graham, daughter of John Graham and Aletha Roberts He and Hannah were the parents of ten children.
Prior to becoming governor, Turney was a prominent attorney in Winchester, Tennessee, practicing law with his father. He organized the 1st Tennessee Regiment, Provisional Army, CSA., and served as a colonel of this regiment in the Civil War.
He was a staunch Democrat who had also served as Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1870 to 1893. As governor, his primary interests were education and prison reform. His re-election in 1894 was contested successfully. In tribute to his deep interest in prison reform, over seven decades after his service a new center for youthful offenders in Hickman County was named in his honor. At the time of his service, he was the oldest person ever to serve as governor of Tennessee, but this record was later broken by Robert Love Taylor.
Influence on popular culture
Turney's brother Joe Turney used his political connections to manage a chain gang for financial gain, inspiring a famous blues song, which in turn inspired August Wilson's play Joe Turner's Come and Gone.